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Maritime fisher groups standing firm on no pipe in Northumberland Strait

An aerial view of the Boat Harbour wastewater site.
An aerial view of the Boat Harbour wastewater site. - Province of Nova Scotia

Refusing further meetings with Northern Pulp until alternate plan available


Fishermen groups in P.E.I., New Brunswick and Nova Scotia say they are done meeting with Northern Pulp until the pulp mill comes up with an alternate plan for handling its effluent.

The mill proposes piping its effluent directly into the Northumberland Strait.

Those associations are said to represent more than 3,000 fish harvesters from P.E.I., NB and NS.

Since that proposal was announced last fall, the Gulf Nova Scotia Fleet Planning Board (GNSFPB), the Prince Edward Island Fishermen’s Association (PEIFA), the Maritime Fishermen’s Union (MFU), representatives from other Nova Scotia fishermen’s associations and the Pictou Landing First Nations (PLFN) have all remained firm on a “no pipe” stance.

Last Tuesday the groups met with Northern Pulp for a third time since the proposal was announced and expressed frustration that an alternate plan is still absent.

The groups, in a shared new release, said they feel “their time and energy would be better spent on collecting proper information and building a case rather than on meetings that continue to conclude with the same outcome; no forward progress.”

They added there are willing to resume discussions with Northern Pulp if an alternative solution to the pipe is presented.

The executive director of the PEIFA, Ian MacPherson suggested there is an unrealistic timeframe in place to come up with a solution that will allow the Nova Scotia pulp mill to keep operating. He said fishermen truly do want the mill to be able to keep operating, but they are opposed to a plan that would see effluent from the mill pumped into Northumberland Strait.

“We want that mill to keep going, we want those jobs to stay viable,” MacPherson commented. “There are a lot of smart people; there are lots of technologies out there (but) this one doesn’t work for the fishing community, the only option that is on the table right now.”

MacPherson insisted the fisher groups are not going to sit back and wait for Northern Pulp to come up with another plan. He said there will need to be dialogue with the Nova Scotia and Federal governments to voice concerns about the proposed pipe.

“The whole process is quite rushed,” MacPherson assessed. It’s an unfortunate situation, I don’t think any of us want to be in it.”

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